Ateneo School of Government Master in Public Management Public Governance and the Bureaucracy
The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program: Addressing poverty from the Ground up
Introduction Even before the Spanish colonization of the Philippines in the 1500s, lands in the Philippines have always been controlled by a few of families. The Datus and Sultans ruled over massive areas of lands, as power social status was dictated by the size of the land one owned and the number of slaves who worked on them. The arrival of the Spaniards set the formalization of a feudalistic management of these lands. Large Haciendas were established and control of these lands were given to the Spanish colonizers and the Filipino families who pledged their allegiance to the Spanish. Until the 1980s, the small Filipino farmers barely had any rights to the ownership and control of these lands. During the time of President Corazon Aquino, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) was passed through Republic Act 6657 in 1988. Its primary purpose was the proper implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), moving the agriculture program away from feudalism towards modern industrialization and at the same time promoting social justice. During the time of President Gloria Arroyo, Executive Order 456 was passed to further expand the Agrarian Reform implementation in order to strengthen the economic and social impact of this reform to its target beneficiaries. 1
The Problem The implementation of the CARP never went smoothly. The redistribution of the land and the securing of land rights were the primary problems faced by those implementing the program. The large hacienderos argued that the economic impact of the program would gravely affect the existing businesses within the lands, making it less viable for growth and
improvement. There are also socio-political consequences that will arise with the distribution of the lands to the farmers. With the distribution of the land being the main issue of the CARP, several proposals were presented by both parties – the land owners and land beneficiaries, towards reaching an amenable solution. Some of the more popular terms are Stock-Distribution Options (SDOs) and Corporative Join-venture schemes. For the purpose of this paper, I shall focus on some of the problems of Negros island, one of the major areas in the country where the implementation of the Agrarian Reform Program has not been very successful.
Negros Island at a Glance The island of Negros may be considered as one of the hotspots with regards to agrarian reform issues. The island is home to numerous haciendas, with land areas ranging from the low hundreds to thousands of hectares, all of which are owned by only a few families. Some of the more famous land owners from the island are Danding Cojuanco who also has claims in the infamous Hacienda Luisita of Central Luzon, and the family of former Senator Rene Espina who owns the Polo plantation located primarily in Tanjay. As early as the late 1980s, right after the signing of the CARL, some of the Negros haciendas attempted to comply with the agrarian reform program. Land owners awarded multiple Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) and Emancipation Patents (EP) to the land beneficiaries. It was also at this time that Stock-Distribution Options (SDO) were granted by other land owners. More than 20 years later, the agrarian reform situation in Negros has barely changed – it is even claimed by the land beneficiaries that some of them are worse now than they were before the implementation of the CARP. Farmers from the Polo plantations of Tanjay have been fighting for their ownership rights over lands which were (are) still owned by the Espinas. According to several news reports, numerous CLOAs of the land beneficiaries were cancelled by the CARP due to loopholes in the law. Areas of the...
References: 1987 Philippine Constitution The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, Republic Act 6657 as amended World Bank Report 2003 The Philippine Star (http://www.philstar.com) The Philippine Daily Inquirer (http://inquirer.net) The Business Mirror (http://businessmirror.com.ph) Various news reports http://www.economywatch.com/agrarian/law/comprehensive.html
Submitted by: MARK RONALD LAMBINO G120001 Ateneo School of Government Master in Public Management Public Governance and the Bureaucracy
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